Being a child of the 80s reared on a high cholesterol diet of Stallone and Schwazenegger and to a lesser extent, Seagal and Van Damme, a popcorn actioner is something that I like to indulge in as a guilty pleasure from time to time. But ever since the 'Matrix', the fundamentals of an action blockbuster have been altered, giving out refuse like 'The Island', 'Constantine' and 'Stealth'. The only beacon of light in this bleak scenario has been the unheralded Louis LeTerrier, who helmed the fun vehicles 'Transporter 2'and 'Unleashed'.
And so when I walked out after 'Miami Vice', I was surprised, elated and more so, arrived on a decision to go back to the movie once it had it's DVD release.
'Miami Vice' has the look and feel of a new kind of Hollywood blockbuster. The script is the stuff of regular Michael Bay- hardass cops, drug deals, white supremists but in the hands of Michael Mann it comes across as a dirty, gritty, stylish actioner.
The fact that the movie is based on an 80s television series is perfunctory, a marketing ploy. Though it starts and climaxes in Miami, it takes you all across Uruguay, Paraguay, Cuba. Representing Miami are cops Stubbs(Jamie Foxx) and Crockett(Farell) donning tans and beach shirts and driving around in cool sets of wheels who are forced to go undercover and infiltrate a drug ring after a covert FBI operation goes bust. The first half of the movie involves the cops riffing off with the smugglers and Crockett falling hot for the smugler's associate and moll, Isabella (Gong Li). But it takes an hour for the movie to gather momentum and when it does, it doesn't let go until the last shot is fired.
The acting department is fairly able with Farell getting more screen time than Foxx when it should have been the other way around. Foxx has about ten times as screen-presence and intensity than the merely adequate Farell. Another major drawback to the movie, is the relationship between Farell and Li. There are all indications that we are to belive it to be of a smouldering, steamy kind with bathing in showers and latin dances and driving a boat through a blue ocean but it hardly comes across. And whats worse, the movie decides to allot a large part of it's time to watch teh relationship unfold. This allows the solid chemistry between Farell and Foxx to remain unutilised which surprising for a Mann flick given that his body work features cackling chemistry between the male stars (Collateral, Heat, The Insider).
Where Mann scores is the feel of the movie. The slang dialouge and grainy high definition digital camera that cinematographer Dion Beebe employs, elevates the movie from the mediocrity that it clearly is.
This is not Oscar material or not even something that a film club in it's right mind will screen. This is something that'll will be re-run to hell on your local movie channel and once in a while when there's nothing really interesting to watch, you'll rest that remote, recline with your feet up and enjoy.